How to be a Great Mentor

Great mentors help us become ourselves.

Great mentoring is more than developing skills, helping people create connections, and navigating organizational politics.

you only see the journey by looking back

How to be a great mentor:

#1. Great mentors practice self-reflection. It’s a great loss to arrive at a station in life without knowing how you got there. You must see your journey in order to guide others on theirs.

You only see the journey by looking back.

#2. Great mentors are still growing. You never arrive. Thinking you have arrived disqualifies you from the circle of wisdom.

#3. Great mentors focus on doing and being. Skill-development (doing) easily surpasses authenticity (being). The result of developing skills without knowing who you are is arrogance, dissatisfaction, and anxiety. This is the challenge all young leaders face.

#4. Great mentors share positive lessons from negative experiences. It’s helpful to warn, but anger and bitterness pollute. You’re a firefighter, not a mentor, if all you know is what to avoid.

#5. Great mentors expose their screwups. Vulnerability is the channel to profound influence. A mentee may believe you’re larger than life. Putting on a show works at the theater, not leadership development.

Lessons from failure represent profound impact.

#6. Great mentors stand up and cheer when mentees show glimpses of authenticity. You understand the rigor of throwing off people-pleasing in order to become yourself. Stand up and cheer when you see it in someone else.

#7. Great mentors make room for others. You aren’t making a mini-you. It’s a great gift to let others shine. Listen more than talk. Focus on them more than you.

This post was inspired by a conversation with Bob Anderson and Bill Adams, authors of, “Mastering Leadership.” Here’s part of our conversation (3:28).

What do you look for in a great mentor?

**More about “Mastering Leadership,” including a fee chapter.



I’m delighted to partner with Clarity Development Consulting to offer the proven “Coaching for Engagement” program. Drop me an email if you’d like to explore having Bob Hancox and me come to your organization to develop the coaching skills of your team.